The St Chads baseball club was founded in 1960, the brainchild of a small band of young men interested in baseball and members of St Chads Anglican Church at Chelsea. Their aim was to provide an alternative sporting activity for the youth of the city of Chelsea in general and the members of the Boys Club associated with the church in particular.
Foundation members were Stanley Darbyshire, Clarence Curwood, Kevin Higgins and Stanley Tonks. The first coach was Clarrie Curwood and Committee members included Stan Darbyshire (president), and Pat Burke (secretary).
A ground at the Bondi Reserve was obtained from the city and players were recruited from the church congregation and boys club. Even the vicar was co-opted into playing when they were short of players. A requirement of playing was that players attend a monthly church parade.
Uniforms were of a pyjama pattern style in sail cloth blue material with St Chads logo being the letters St inside a large C. Facilities were non existent at the ground and it became apparent that if the club was to prosper a clubhouse was essential. The clubhouse came in the form of a Nissen Hut, which was purchased by club members through debentures. The hut came from the Alfred Hospital and was transported from Prahran to the ground in the early morning on one of Clarrie’s trucks. There it positioned approximately halfway up the reserve on the southern side between the football ground and turf wickets of the cricket club. By agreement between the Baseball Club and the Football Club, it provided changing facilities for the football teams also. Its drawback was that it lacked toilets and showers, but that never seemed to bother the members.
By 1966 the club had grown to a point that it could field junior teams. Juniors trained on Sunday mornings before the seniors and on Wednesday nights. Training mid week, without the benefit of lights, was limited to bunting and pitching practice in the clubhouse, which exuded warmth rarely experienced. The camaraderie that had to be seen to be believed.
Success on the field did not come easily but with the support of members, family and friends, the club maintained a solid financial position and continued to be competitive. This was in contrast to other clubs within the association, which fell by the wayside in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Clubs like imperials, Carrum, Saints, Noble Park, YCW, Dandy A, Springvale Lions and Lyndale were forced to merge with other clubs or ceased to exist. In 1969 the struggling Carrum Cubs merged with St Chads and Bonbeach St Chads Baseball Club was born. To reflect the new identity the uniform was upgraded to a modern design. White top and pants with a logo being B in old English style on the left breast.
In 1971 the club secured a new site at the eastern entrance of the reserve adjacent to newly constructed toilet and shower block. No ‘Clubroom’ was provided, so with the assistance of a small army of enthusiastic members, the nissen hut was carried the 200m or so from its original position to its new home. The rooms were now shared with the cricket club, which made use of them in the summer season.
By 1972 the club secured its first Senior flag to go with those already won by junior teams. 1976 saw the demolition of the original clubhouse in favour of a new brick structure provided by the council. This clubhouse named Curwood Hall in memory of Clarrie Curd’s contribution to the club would become the home of Bonbeach until the clubhouse a Bicentennial Park at Chelsea was completed in 1994. In 1975 the uniform changed again with the adoption of a V-neck style top, carrying a blue Jay logo on the front in hardwearing material. The pants were powder blue. It also heralded a change in club colours to pale blue and white. These colours and uniform style would remain until 1997.
Over the next 27 years the club would amass a total of 82 flags for the winter competition. Bonbeach soon became the club to beat in the DBA Competition. 1976 brought Bonbeach into the Victorian Baseball Association summer competition for the first time. A lowly Division 3 club, many of the more talented players opted to play with the successful Sandringham club. It was through this association that Sandringham members transferred to Bonbeach for the winter season, bringing with them new skills in playing, coaching and administration. Perseverance paid off with Bonbeach being promoted to Division 2 and this had maintained a strong and stable club regularly fielding 5 senior and 6 junior teams in both summer and winter seasons.
In 1987 Bonbeach relinquished its Bondi road location for a new ground at Thames Promenade, the site of the old Chelsea landfill which had been unused since dormant since 1970. Plans showed 2 diamonds built to international dimensions. Initially one diamond was constructed and enclosed with a fence. The other was left open to permit multiple junior games. No other facilities were provided and a refreshments caravan, manned by dedicated members, was towed to the ground on game days.
In 1993 after 5 years of planning and lobbying, construction started on a new clubroom for Bonbeach St Chads Baseball Club. Costs were borne by city of Chelsea through Victorian Government Grants and Club members. The cash component from the council provided the shell of the structure and the materials and the club member contribution was in the form of architectural and engineering design and labor to complete the fit-out of the building.
On 19 June 1994 the clubhouse was officially opened. The two-storey structure is the benchmark for other clubs to strive for. Ground development has continued since then. Back nets to both grounds have been constructed. Lights to permit evening training have been installed and scorers’ huts have been erected. The Bonbeach Baseball Club can boast that it has provided players, junior and senior at all representative levels: VPBL state, VBA state, ABL and Australian Representatives. Also Internationally, players from Bonbeach have been invited to play in the U.S at a collegiate level. The club also proudly boasts it had a player involved with the Detroit Tigers organisation